In my growing up years, Lord Krishna was the coolest one. There were tales that we heard about his mischief, we acted him out in plays and read Amar Chitra Kathas about him. For me, I have grown up with him being my confidant, my buddy, my best friend. The first time I heard his story was at Nani’s house in Kanpur where all my maternal Uncles live with their families. All cousins sat around Nani as she narrated stories about the Lord.
The tale where the ruler of Mathura, Kansa after hearing the prediction that the eighth baby born to his sister Devaki and Vasudeva would kill him, vows to kill every child of the couple. Seeing their first seven children killed, Devaki and Vasudeva fear the same destiny will fall on their eight born. It is Lord Vishnu who magically frees Vasudeva from the prison once the baby is born. Vasudeva exchanges Lord Krishna with a newborn girl of Yashoda and Nanda. He then returns to prison while Krishna is raised as a cowherd in Gokul. The prediction does come true and on his return to Mathura, he slays Kansa and restores his father to power. “Jakho rakhe saiya mar sake na koi” Nani ended the story. It was on that day I learned two things -The might of Lord Krishna and that one who has God on his side, need not fear as He will protect him. He became the one I turned to and confided into.
Across the street where Nani’s house is, there is a temple where every morning bhajans and songs would start playing on the loudspeakers. The favorite of the Panditji I guess was “Yashomati Maiyya Se Bole Nand Lala, Radha kyu gori main kyu kala” from the movie Satyam, Shivam Sundaram. He would play it on the loop and I can bet that even today after so many years all the residents of the street can sing the song in their sleep. Lord Krishna has always been called The Dark One. The Sanskrit word, “Krishna” means dark. The legend tells us that Lord Krishna drank the poisoned milk given by the demon that gave his skin a bluish dark tinge. Blue is also the color of aura. For Lord Krishna, it depicts his eternal spiritual body. Since he was born at midnight he is often shown as black in several images and idols too.
In our house, we have been celebrating Janamashtmi with gusto year after year. We all fast on this day. New clothes and a new mukut with morpankh ( peacock feather) are bought for the Lord who is placed in his cradle and everyone takes a turn to rock him. He is our “Nandlala.” We go to watch the play performances or Natak in the temples. The actors in their caked up makeup, the garish shiny costumes, the loud music, laughter and the bellowing noises that reach the audience; it’s all so entertaining. The story is the same yet I am never bored. I feel connected to my roots. It’s a reminder of our virtues and his words of wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita.
The delicacies that are made especially on this day are exquisite. Rajgira Paratha, Sabudana Khichdi, Kuttu Singahri ki Puri, Rasewale Dahi aloo, Mango Rabdi, Makhane ki Kheer, Lauki ki Kheer are made. It’s more a feast than a fast. The aromas that emanate from the kitchen can make anyone salivate. If there’s one dessert that I love out of the array that is made, it is “Makhane Ki Kheer.” This amazing vrat-friendly sweet is not only delectable but also falls into the healthy category. Simple to make with the basic ingredients of milk, sugar, foxnuts and dry fruits; it is creamy and smooth. I have watched both Nani and Ma make it. From one generation to another, the recipe has stayed the same. I solemnly hope it doesn’t change. Just like Holi for me means only one type of “Gujiya”, the khoya one and not the dozen others that flooded the market this year like Chocolate Gujiya, Paan Gujia; for me, Janamashtmi reminds me of “Makhane ki kheer” made this way. The light sauteeing of the makhanas or foxnuts in ghee to make it crunchy, the thickening of the milk on heat as the sugar/condensed milk swirls and blends beautifully before the foxnuts bob up and down and soak in the creaminess. This is divine!
Today is Janamashtmi and Makhane ki kheer will once again be made at home. Even though I’m not in India for the first time on this day, I join in spirit and in remembrance of the Lord who is a supreme God in his own right. May Lord Krishna’s flute invite the melody of love into your life. Happy Janmashtami!
This post is a part of #MyFriendAlexa challenge. It’s an endeavor to bring interesting stories, places, food and places to the readers. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with blogchatter.